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Pistol Progression Part 2

Progressing from our the first instalment of Pistol Squat progressions it is important to ensure that you are able to complete the movements in part #1.   The series of movements in the following progressions have added intensity and require greater flexibility, stability and strength as we work our way to completing a Full Pistol.


Elevated Pistol

 During the elevated pistol, you will stand on top of a box with one leg hanging off the side. As you squat down your free leg can dangle down below the box thus reducing the required hip flexion that is needed in the full pistol. As you increase capacity in this movement, progress down to a lower box which will increase the need for greater hip flexibility in the free leg.

This movement can also be assisted by a plate as a counterbalance forward.


Rolling Pistol

This movement will add speed to the pistol and allow you to work on the bottom position without loading from the top down. Starting in a standing position, squat down bring your arms overhead, rolling onto your shoulders and the upper part of your back. As you begin to roll drive your toes up to the sky in front of you. To keep the momentum, it’s important not to bend at the hip or let your toes go beyond your head.   When you begin to transfer your momentum forward think about pulling your nose down and hips up as if you were trying to continue into a forward roll. On the forward part of the movement look to do a quick sit-up and tuck as you drive your posting leg heel to your butt to create a fast rotation to your foot.

If you have trouble creating or maintain momentum through the movement, try holding onto a 10 or 15lbs plate in an Assisted Rolling Pistol.


Plate Pistol

We’re almost there! This progression will help to solve balance and/or mobility issues throughout the Pistol. The external load serves as a counterbalance as your center of mass shifts in weight.  We have used this on and elevated surface and in the rolling Pistol. The Plate offers more assistance because the rotation of your torso helps reach your hip to end range of flexion sooner in the Pistol.

As you work through this progression and get better at it, you can reduce the weight to challenge your flexibility, stability and strength


These progressions will build the strength, balance, and body awareness required for completing a Pistol squat. In part 3 of our series we will provide some tools to use to increase your mobility and flexibility in the hips and ankles.

Tips for Kips

Maintaining proper positioning when developing the kip and utilizing it in movements such as a kipping pull-up, toes-to-bar, bar or ring muscle-up is crucial.  The basic positions of a hollow body and arch make up the foundation of the kip.  While attached to the pull-up bar, activating your lats by pushing down on the bar to move into the hollow body position and actively pulling through into the arch position allow you to keep control of your body and generate the greatest amount of force.
In reps 1-3 the swing is completely initiated through the legs, this results in very little control of the body and lacks power.  The hips swing far past and behind the bar, and thus lack a real cadence , making it difficult to progress to a gymnastics movement.
In reps 3-5 the lats are activated by pushing into the bar which results in more control and power, however the hollow body position is lost when the knees bend in the back.
Reps 6-8 are very similar to 3-5, there is strong lat activation and control over the swing however when the legs split in the back portion of the kip it is known as a “force bleed”, where the body will be less powerful and efficient moving through that range of motion
Reps 9-11 provide a snapshot into a controlled and powerful kip.  She moves through the hollow body and arch position, while keeping her legs together and actively pushing down on the bar for the back swing and pulling through the bar to the front.  A great point of reference is her hips.  They remain directly under the pull-up bar, this shows that the shoulders are initiating and controlling the movement.
Developing these positions are part of building a foundation in gymnastics movements.  Showing complete control and awareness in the kip is necessary before progressing to movements such as kipping pull-ups, kipping toes to bar, or kipping bar or ring muscle-ups.

Kipping Muscle-up Progression

To develop the kipping Muscle-up, follow this progression.  Note that it is important to be able to complete 7-10 strict pull-ups, 7-10 ring dips, 7-10 kipping pull-ups prior to working towards a kipping muscle-up .

Fasle grip will be our first key to developing the kipping muscle-up.  The false grip is simply a way of grabbing the rings that places the wrist above the ring rather than below it. With the wrist above the ring, the transition into the dip becomes easier.  We want to practice our ability to maintain the false grip as we move in and out of the hollow body and superman positions in kip.  

Kipping Muscle-up #1

The ability to generate power through hip extension is very important in a kipping muscle-up.  This video shows how to practice the hip extension while holding a false grip.  Note in the video how your arms will stay long until the hips have extended.

Kipping Muscle-up #2

The turnover is the most challenging part of a muscle-up.  This video shows how to practice the turnover using a resistance band.  Speed is the key to this movement and you shift your weight from below to above the rings.

Kipping Muscle-up #3

Kipping Pull-up Progression

To develop the kipping pull-up, follow this progression.  Note that it is important to be able to complete 3-5 strict pull-up prior to working towards a kipping pull-up.

Your ability to move in and out of a hollow body to superman position is key to the kipping pull-up.  If you lack the stability or trunk control, your pull-up progression will start with the log rolls as shown in this video:

Kipping Pull-up #1

Maintaining active shoulders during your kip will ensure you are stable and effectively using your upperbody strength to execute the kipping pull-up.  This video shows active shoulders prior to starting a kipping motion.

Kipping Pull-up #2

Combining what you’ve learned in video #1 and #2 culminates in a kip.  Once you are able to keep active shoulders and move in and out of the hollow body and superman positions you will be ready to pull.  Timing of the pull is crucial to successfully getting your chin over the bar.  As shown in the video, when your wrist closes as you swing behind the bar, is your cue to pull.

Kipping Pull-up #3

Stringing kipping pull-ups together requires control of your body throughout the movement.  Once you have successfully pulled yourself above the bar, it is important to push back and down to ensure you will maintain some speed.

Kipping Pull-ups #4